King County Metro Transit has announced a plan to fix some of the most severe crowding caused by last week’s huge service change.
The Route 218, from the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to Issaquah Highlands, was so full that last Monday, a driver waved riders aboard without paying to avoid delaying buses and trains behind. Later a clump of about 10 riders were bypassed twice, waiting more than 30 minutes for a bus that had room. Crowding continued all week.
So starting Monday, Oct. 15, the afternoon 218 buses will skip Eastgate Freeway Station on their way out to Issaquah. This will force Eastgate riders out of the Seattle tunnel and up to Second Avenue to catch Eastgate-bound route 212, 216, or 554 — instead of sharing the 218 and displacing Issaquah riders as happened last week. Metro initially thought it could improve service by reducing bus frequency on 218 and adding buses to the busier 212, but the strategy backfired.
Over in West Seattle, Metro just added two buses to the new RapidRide C Line in the morning and two in afternoon to provide frequency every eight or nine minutes. There was ample room Monday on the 8:26 bus, and the 8:31 bus leaving Alaska Junction was only one-third full, but the Columbus Day holiday may have kept some commuters home. Riders told West Seattle Blog an 8:05 bus became packed and skipped riders downstream.
Metro says transit ridership has grown compared to counts just a few months ago. On the other hand, some West Seattle buses no longer go all the way downtown, as Metro funnels its lines, customers and dollars into RapidRide.